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A Simple Platformer with a Ton of Charm - Kirby 64 Review
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards has never been an outstanding game by any means. It wasn’t outstanding when it was released for the Nintendo 64 back in 2000, and it’s not outstanding now that it is available for the Virtual Console. Still, there’s no denying that the game oozes with charm and features some entertaining platforming gameplay and a spin on the Kirby formula.
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Kirby 64 Storyline
The plot in Kirby 64 is very thin and revolves around a new enemy known as Dark Matter who wants to raid the land of Ripple Star and steal its powerful Crystal. It isn’t long before, by pure coincidence, one of the residents of Ripple Star encounters Kirby and asks for his help in saving the star and its inhabitants.
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Kirby 64 Gameplay
Kirby 64 plays much like past Kirby games in that it features some very creative level design and the ability to copy enemies’ attacks. When Kirby sucks up a foe, he’ll be able to perform that enemy’s attack. One of the elements that made Kirby 64 stand out among its predecessors back when it was released for the Nintendo 64 was the combination system. Kirby can now combine the attacks of two enemies to perform a combo move. For example, if Kirby inhales an enemy with Cutter and combines that move with Burn, he’ll be able to wield a flaming sword. Additionally, combing two of the same moves enhances that move’s power.
At the heart of this combination gameplay is some varied, though simplistic, platforming. You’ll see a lot of interesting level design, do some engaging platforming, and take on some unique bosses. Unfortunately, for all of the variety included in the game, the level of challenge never really picks up. It’s possible to get through the entire game without ever seeing the game over screen.
One of the game’s biggest flaws, and the one that derives most from the Kirby formula, is its slow pace. Kirby games have never been known for being high-speed affairs, but Kirby 64 is by far the slowest game in the series. Kirby’s movement, even when running, is very sluggish, and his upward movement is very slow-paced as well. A bit of an increase in Kirby’s speed would have been very welcome.
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Kirby 64 on the Virtual Console can be played with either the Classic Controller or the GameCube controller. Both options work well, though the Classic Controller is easier to recommend simply due to the fact that the D-pad is larger and placed in a more comfortable spot on the Classic Controller as opposed to the GameCube controller’s smaller, lower positioned D-pad. You can use the analog stick to control Kirby, but given the fact that this is a side-scrolling platformer, the D-pad feels much more natural.
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Graphics and Sound
The visuals in Kirby 64 are rich and vibrant. This is a very colorful platformer, and its graphical style was lauded back in 2000 for a reason. Even by today’s standards, Kirby 64 remains a beautiful-looking game thanks to its use of color. The game’s soundtrack fits right in with its colorful look, featuring lighthearted themes for each stage that fit well within the Kirby universe.
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Kirby 64 isn’t a long-lasting game at all. With just over 20 levels and a handful of boss battles, Kirby 64 is the kind of game you’ll beat in an afternoon or two. Even if you seek out each of the game’s 72 Crystal Shards and go for the good ending, you’ll still be done with the game fairly quickly. There are three minigames thrown into the game for good measure, and these support up to four players and are pretty fun; but in the end, these three minigames don’t do much to add to the game’s lasting value.
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Kirby 64 Overall Score
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards on the Virtual Console isn’t a bad game by any means. It’s an undeniably fun game, and it drips with tons of charm. Unfortunately, it’s a bit on the easy side, and it’s too short for its own good. If you’re a die-hard fan of Kirby games or just want a fun yet simple platformer, the 1000 Wii Points ($10) are well worth it. However, if you don’t fancy either or you’re looking for a deeper gaming experience, your Wii Points are better spent elsewhere.